In preparation for my sermon this weekend on 1 Samuel I was drawn to a section of text that jumped out at me.
It’s found in 1 Samuel Chapter 8 and its here we find the people of Israel yet again disgruntled about their situation. They once again find them selves discontented with what God has provided for them and want a change. Except this time it is a drastic request.
Up until this point the people of Israel of have been led exclusively by God and His laws. There were no kings or leaders that ruled over the people instead judges, priests, and prophets were used as God’s mouth piece to direct them.
This method of order keeping was incomparably successful. God had freed the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, guided them to the Promise Land in Canaan, defeated any and all enemies that apposed them, and provided them unthinkable peace during their times of obedience.
Yet despite that track record of success the Israelites were not satisfied and wanted something more. They were tired of having just God and they wanted a king. They saw the nations around them rising up with powerful kings and they thought God was out of touch. He must have missed the memo that kings were in and judges were “so yesterday” (insert Valley Girl voice here).
They approach their current leader a priest by the name of Samuel and demand that he tell God to give them a king.
“But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.” – 1 Samuel 8:6-9
God reminds Samuel not to take this personal because they are really not rejecting him, but they are rejecting Him. They were rejecting God and with that carried consequences.
But in God’s mercy, He told Samuel to explain what having a king would really mean for them as a people. He didn’t sugar coat the fact that it won’t be puppies and ponies with a king at the wheel. In fact life will be down right difficult, corrupt, and filled with pain. In other words God says, “Believe me…you don’t want that.”
But this didn’t sway their decision.
“But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us.” – 1 Samuel 8:19
Despite God’s warning the people said, “No. We want what we want.”
Which brings us to one of the most haunting lines in Scripture.
“When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.” – 1 Samuel 8:21-22
That’s right. No lighting bolts blowing up people who disagree with Him. No Heavenly tongue lashing. No flood to get rid of all the unbelievers again. None of that.
Instead, God gave them exactly what they wanted. He let their free will be used just as He had designed it to be. Freely.
They had the freedom to choose His way or their way and they made their choice.
I think we all know this is still true today.
We are not forced to follow God’s will in our life. We can still choose drugs, sex, relationships, success, divorce, pride, anger, jealousy, and anything else we want over Him and He will let us.
But just as guaranteed as the free will from God is so are the consequences from our choices. God does not shield us from the weight and effects of our decisions.
The Israelites were oppressed by their kings from that moment on and we’ve felt the full weight of our decisions too.
Those decisions are ours to bare when we decide to go with our way and not Yahweh in our life.
However, there is a King that is greater than the decisions we make and those consequences. Jesus Christ is the Ultimate King that rules and reigns over all and will do that for you and I if we choose Him to lead our life.
By giving Jesus his rightful place on the throne of our life we relinquish the illusion of control we have and give it to the One who wanted it all along. Our past decisions to choose sin over the Son will be wiped away by the Grace of Jesus.
This free choice is one we will never second guess and will never look back on and wish we hadn’t made. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have many of those in my life right now, but I’m glad I have at least One.